Older, Wiser, More Experienced: How over-50s tailor their resumes
Over-50s are not ready to hang up their spurs. When faced with job moves, even in the hospitality industry, which has traditionally favored younger workers, today’s over-50 job seekers are dusting off their resumes and finding ways to make their experience – not their age – stand out.
A recent Merrill Lynch report found 71% of people 50 and older want to work in "retirement," while 38% of those want to alternate between work and leisure. An additional 17% are looking for part-time work.
Increasingly, more mature workers are finding the hospitality industry, with its wide variety of positions and need for skilled employees, a good home for their abilities. But one of the hurdles over-50 job seekers may face when applying for hospitality jobs for the first time, switching jobs, or recovering from job loss is getting the proverbial foot in the door. An effective resume, highlighting experience over age, can be that door-opener.
“Your resume needs to focus on the fact that you have wisdom and experience, and wisdom and experience don’t equal OLD, they equal success,” says Peter Shrive, a partner with Cambridge Management Planners. “There are three key phrases you should consider for your resume if you’re over 50: results, results and results. These kinds of words -- seasoned, experienced, well-versed, successful, results-oriented -- instantly say older. The over-50 person must face the fact that the prejudice might exist (that younger is better in the hospitality industry). To eliminate the possibility of age discrimination, you might want to list your birth date right at the top, so anyone with a problem can just walk away.”
Designing a resume to highlight experience
In terms of length and structure, the “mature” resume should be no different from a well-constructed younger person’s resume, two concise pages consisting of:
- Your coordinates – name, address, telephone numbers, email.
- Overview of your experience.
- A list of your experience in reverse chronological order, focusing on the past 10 to 15 years. Experience before that time should be summarized briefly.
- Your education, courses taken and a little bit of personal information.
But, says Shrive, what sets your resume apart is that it is a lot “meatier,” focusing on many more accomplishments and results. “It’s a lot more exciting to read the resume of an over-50 job seeker because of the emphasis on results. You make your resume accurate and interesting, highlighting your breadth of experience.”
A common mistake some mature job seekers in the hospitality industry make on their resumes is to try too hard to compete with younger candidates. Don’t be desperate to make yourself look “young,” Shrive advises. Express your experience. You can still have drive, experience and enthusiasm without appearing desperate to appear young.
Your resume actually presents you with tremendous advantages over the younger person’s resume. For instance, if you’re looking for a job as a senior server, your resume can highlight the number of tables you’ve managed, how the complaints from your section decreased, and the number of other servers you’ve trained and mentored. If you’re a sommelier, you can focus on the many wineries you’ve visited, the depth of experience you’ve had with a particular style of wine, how many chefs you’ve worked with.
Tips for a top over-50 resume
- It’s all about attitude. This is what you can highlight on your resume through the way you present your experience and talk about your objectives.
- Don’t reinvent the format, just focus on the fact that your resume is going to be meatier, with the kind of depth that’s appealing to the hospitality industry.
- Show your best profile and be proud of it. Use lots of examples to highlight your experience.
- Focus on achievements and successes, especially over the last 10 to15 years.
- Show the progression of your experience by listing the assignments one after the other, one line each, so prospective employers can see all your achievements over the past 10 to15 years. Then highlight some successes that have come out of these. Nothing is more impressive for an employer than seeing a long list of achievements.
Remember, there really is a place for both the younger and older worker in today’s hospitality industry. Employers looking for experience will be attracted to the resume of an interesting, qualified over-50 worker.